Incan's crown jewel: Machu Picchu
We woke up really early to catch the Perurail that connects from Cusco to Machu Picchu. There are two ways to go to Machu Picchu: 1) You can take the Perurail and enjoy a 3-hour train ride, or 2) You can hike all the way to Machu Picchu from Cusco. Obviously, the latter sounds cooler because you can experience the Incan way to enter the shrine, and you can bring to your friends that you conquered the Incan trail. However, since the trail is a UNESCO world heritage site, the local government is restricting the number of tourists that can hike the trail. Each day, the government only grants 500 passes to trail hikers. Most people who hike on the Incan trail go with a registered tour. A minimum of 100 hike passes are already occupied by tour guides, chefs, carriers etc., which means only 400 passes are realistically available to tourists. If you want to hike on the Incan Trail in September, most of the passes are already sold out by February. Please plan ahead accordingly if you want to try out the Incan Trail. If you are one of the lucky ones to get a pass, please ensure that your fitness level is at the highest. The Incan trail is no joke and the altitude can cause significant discomfort and fatigue to your body.
Alas, here is Machu Picchu, ancient home to the Incans.
If you are planning to go to Machu Picchu, it is recommended that you go in September. The local tour guide told me that there were hundreds of tourists in the site during summer time. If you want to take a picture with no photo-bombs, it is impossible.
Some interesting fact about Machu Picchu: It is estimated that the city was built around 1450 but it was abadoned a century later because of the Spanish conquest. It was not discovered for several centuries until 1911 by an American professor. The American professor was led to Machu Picchu by a local sheppard.
It was thought that Machu Picchu was a place only for the nobles, royals and scholars. It was a sanctuary for the high-born, thus forming a very exclusive community. The Incans were also believed to be the pioneer of advanced masonry technology. Incans' architecture had the ability to precisely cut and shape stones closely fitted without mortar.
Look how small Machu Picchu is behind us!
Similar to Machu Picchu, the mountain hikes nearby also require passes. The famous mountain, Huayna Picchu, was long sold out. As a result, we hiked up the other adjacent Mountain instead, Montana.
The climb up on Montana is very steep. I recall a bunch of local kids were able to leapfrog me on the hike up the mountain. Once you are at 9,000 feet high, any step up the trail becomes a difficult task to conquer.
Machu Picchu is also the home to many llamas. It is also the first time I have seen a llama!
Incans were believed to be experts at astronomy. Since they didn't want to look at the constellation constantly by hurting their neck muscles, they constructed the "water mirrors" as their tool.
You can see from this picture alone that there are 3 llamas.
Jumping picture is a must at the end.